Monday, October 1, 2012

The Demon Catchers of Milan

Title: The Demon Catchers of Milan
Author: Kat Beyer
Publisher: EdgmontUSA
Pages: 288
Rating 3/5 Stars

I want to start this review by saying that I enjoyed The Demon Catchers of Milan and I intend on reading the sequel. I liked the world that Kat Beyer created. Her love of Italy and the level of research she did to present Milan as accurately as possible was clear from the first page. I'm no expert on exorcisms, but Beyer's research there seemed equally thorough.

The Demon Catchers of Milan is a plot driven story, rather than character driven. It seems that Kat Beyer had an idea about a family of demon catchers, generations steeped in tradition who provide an age-old service, and created characters to fit that idea after the fact. As a result, the book lacks depth. The characters - while likable and relatable - aren't interesting or unique. The main character, Mia, is an average sixteen/seventeen year old girl. That's both good and bad. On the one hand, I was glad that I didn't have to suffer through an entire first person narrative that was riddled with crippling self-doubt or overwrought teen angst.

On the other, Mia is SO average - everything about her, from her circumstances to her family to her outlook on life is average to the point of being boring. Rather than calling attention to the extraordinary circumstances she finds herself in, Mia's averageness just makes her dull. Within the realm of demon catching she's apparently special and particularly astute, but that idea is only hinted at in this book.

Another problem is that Beyer doesn't let a chapter go by before diving into the action of the story. I appreciate that we hit the ground running, but Beyer is in such a hurry to get to Italy that I have no idea who Mia is or what she was like before the demon possession that prompts her trip to Milan. I know only the bare minimum about her family and I'm allowed only a glimpse of her personal interactions with them before Mia is whisked away to Italy.

Originally, I gave The Demon Catchers of Milan four stars because I really did have a pleasant experience while reading it. Upon writing the review, however, I have to amend that rating to three stars. The book just needs more of something and even will all of my talk above I'm not sure that it's only character depth that is lacking.

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